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Published: November 27th 2012
"Hello might I join your conversation, my name is Edward" is how me, mum and Ange are greeted in perfect English.
We're on the boat back from Ruski Island when this cute 8 year old kid approaches us to practice his English. He is very proper and he also tells us, amongst his hobbies are reading books such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Agatha Christie to name a few. He has even read Master and Margarita!
Well me and Ange are most definitely impressed, I think back to when I was 8 I was more then likely picking my nose and climbing a tree or something. Maybe I was reading something highly cultured like the Babysitters Club but I never quite made it to Dostoevsky, not even now in my 26 years of living.
I made a personal note to read at least one of his books at some point.
But this was not how our trip to Vladivastok started. Initially we were camped, by the airport, awaiting the arrival of our lovely Angelique from Australia. Flying into Vladivastok feels like flying back into civilization.
The city is bigger, Japan and China are only a stones throw
away and the airport is one you actually walk through to collect your luggage.
I don't have to adjust to this feeling of civilization for too long as due to a number of reasons we end up camping in a tent in a small forest by the airport. I wish I could have come up with the genius idea of camping by an airport however I owe it to previous surfers of Vadim, our amazing host in Kamchatka for the brilliant idea (they camped for 4 days whilst waiting for a flight to Kuril islands).
Bright and early, at 6am we greet Ange the next day. Ange is all super pumped for a day spent sight seeing Vladivastok despite not having slept for the past 48 hours.
Walking around Vladivastok is really nice, particularly on a sunny day like this one. Students that haven't left the city are out and about looking hipster and the city has a San Francisco feel to it.
I've never been to San Francisco and I haven't seen many photos of the city but I imagine it looks like Vladivastok.
We visit the railway station, where we will be departing
the city from. Vladivastok railway station built in 17th century style modeled after Yeroslavisky train station. It has the transcription here is the terminus if the Great Transiberian Railroad.
"Total distance traveled 9,288 km"
It's hard to believe that I will consecutively travel potentially over 9,000km by train. If done in one sitting that's seven whole days spent traveling on a train!
Nearby are some war memorials and the submarine musuem which is fun to explore as you literally walk through a used to be functioning Russian submarine.Its an S56 built in 1936. S-type submarines (S for Stalinist) were recognized as the most effective ships of World War 2, as effective as 14 German ships.
We make a visit to Saint Nicholas cathedral cathedral founded in 1907 and dedicated to all victims of Russian-Japanese war. The cathedral has icons of Russian saints and wonder workers relicts.
Having grown up in Orthodox culture I forget how completely foreign some Orthodox practices are to non Christians or even Christians of other denominations.
Being with Ange I notice some things we do in church which is quite the norm in our religion but might not be in
For example, prior to entering the church we make the cross sign across our body 3 times and bow after each cross.
Inside the church we also make the cross on our body and venerate the icons and even relics of saints or people we consider holy.
Following the visit to the church we spot the university art school along the way and make our way inside for an impromtu tour of the school and the students art works.
I can't say I'm not impressed!
Our last highlight of the day is Eagles nest -the highest point of the city 214 meters above sea level. This is where I get the impression that the city is a little, maybe just a little like San Francisco. But hey it's also been said somewhere by someone before. You can see Golden Horn Bridge and Golden Horn Bay from here.
Also the worlds longest cable-stayed bridge (3.1km) is visible from here, a bridge which connects Vladivastok to Russkiy Island.
The second day we take a trip to Russkiy Island to explore the Island and hopefully visit a fort or two. We manage to meet
a local taxi driver who coincidentally acts like a tour guide.
"Business is slow." The driver begins as I rapidly translate for Ange whilst trying to keep the conversation flowing.
"Due to the Summit 2012 no one is coming to the island. This isn't really helping the locals."
I ask him;
"Why isn't anyone coming due to the summit?"
"Officials are spreading false information about The Island such as changing weather forecasts and the like to sway people from visiting until Summit 2012 is over. It's crazy because if you look at islands only 3km away its sunny and perfect there. However for us it's raining???"
He shakes his head before adding,
"Ah it's typical Russia." The driver informs us.
His name is Alex, and he has about three higher educations, but working as a taxi driver brings him the highest income particularly as he 3 children to feed.
We arrive at the fort of Russkiy Island, the most famous in the area. It could shoot up to 80km in front and was well hidden, to be used if the Japenese ever came and invaded. Now dismantled, its main use is
for many Russian tourists who visit Ruskiy Island, particularly during summer months and use the fort as a photo prop.
After taking obligatory photos on and around the fort we take a dip in the dirty waters of Russkiy Island. On the way back we bump into small but very knowledgable Edward.
Our final day is spent exploring the walking street, known in cities around Russia as Arbat.
We visit the stadium Dinamo, where Russia's premier footballers play. Exploring the sports quay a popular walking and beach area we notice guys doing gymnastics and skateboarders skate. T
his gives the place a nice ambience and great to just sit and chill.
The last port of call before we take off by train to Khabarovsk is the Ethnographic museum. Be warned, if you decide to visit any ethnographic Musuem in Russia you will be witness to many a stuffed animal 99% of the time.
Generally this is actually the part of the musuem most curators are proud of and will insist that you visit this area. Or this may be the only part of the museum worth looking at.
However it's still worth to
visit these museums, for example in Ulan Ude we really enjoyed the ethnographic musuem which gave a lot of information relating to indigenous Buryat culture.
Anyways we make visit to the Primosrsky region natural musuem named after the famous explorer Vladimir Arsenyev. The Musuem was opened in 1890, has loads of stuffed animals and a bit of history of Primorye region.
Is claim to fame is a bear and tiger doing the death dance together.
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